Ameen: Gangs prey on women

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Khadijah Ameen. –

KHADIJAH AMEEN, St Augustine MP, has said criminal gangs were preying on women whom they forced into nefarious activities (gun and drug trafficking) and sexual exploitation (forced marriage and prostitution), and she urged the law courts and the Government to stem this state of affairs. She was speaking on Friday in the House of Representatives on the continued debate on a private motion by Barataria/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein chiding the Government’s handling of crime.

“This Government has to accept responsibility for the murder rate spiralling out of control and they have failed in every aspect of national security, including the protection of women and girls in TT.”

She recalled the Government in 2021 saying that out of 1,796 police CCTV cameras, 700 were dilapidated, a statement she dubbed “an admission of failure.”

Ameen asked what “real action” has taken place towards women and girls being able to lawfully obtain pepper spray.

She urged the Government to disclose how many businesses have been approved to manufacture, acquire and/or supply pepper spray under the Firearms (Amendment) Act 2021.

“Tell us, how many citizens have been granted this licence to purchase and carry pepper spray for their personal protection?

“You have given us such a long waiting period for the legislation to become a reality. But if it is not happening on the ground, then you have failed to be effective.”

She said she viewed the government promises to regulate the PH taxi industry as merely a mamaguy.

“The PNM had promised several times to put police posts in several areas where women were notoriously being attacked and where bodies were being disposed or where bodies were being found, such as the Heights of Aripo. We have had time passing and there seems to be no political will from this Government to ensure that police posts are stationed in those at-risk areas.”

She said more police posts would help curb crime, but lamented that police posts are being reduced in some at-risk area, where they would deter would-be offenders. Ameen also urged more community engagement by the police.

She lamented murder victims last year ranging from one to 80 years old. Ameen listed the number of women murdered each year from 2017-2022 successively as 53, 47, 64, 54, 33 and 57, out of corresponding total murders each year of 495, 517, 536, 392, 448 and 598.

“No member of the Government can tell me they feel safe in this country.”

Ameen said Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Ayanna Webster-Roy seemed “totally disconnected” from the horror citizens felt at violent crime.

“The issues surrounding children and the protection of children in this country are so horrendous at this stage that to hear more promises, promises that are so unrealistic, is an insult to citizens.”She lamented the understaffing and under-resourcing of the Children’s Authority, as revealed at a recent sitting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chaired by Davendranath Tancoo.

Ameen lamented the devastation faced by the families of murdered women.

Accusing the Government of a lack of competence or political will, she said it provided too few resources to find missing women.

She said over the years out of 522 missing people, some 30 had ended up dead, 466 had been found, but 56 had vanished without a trace.

Ameen urged the law courts to better protect women from domestic violence and Government to stop gangs preying on women.

“The fact is that young women are being forced to carry out crime in this country. They are being forced to marry criminal gang leaders as part of being inducted into the gang. They are being forced into drugs and prostitution. They are being forced to deal in arms and ammunition.

“This Government has taken no action to prevent, and protect, our women.”